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This study aims to describe the human periodontal ligament (PDL) using serial sections, with a focus on mechanoreceptor distribution and morphology. One permanent lower canine with surrounding PDL and alveolar bone tissues was retrieved from a human cadaver. After being embedded into paraffin block, the canine was horizontally cut in 6 μm thick serial sections. At root levels of 0.3, 1.5, 3, 4.5 and 6 mm from the apex, five slices each level were evaluated. Immunocytochemisty was performed on the same serial sections, enabling a more reliable description of neural structures. The distribution of myelinated fibres varied from apical to coronal level, with a total number of 38 at 0.3 mm from the apex, 25 at 1.5 mm, 25 at 3 mm, 31 at 4.5 mm and 32 at 6 mm. At all times, mesial and buccal regions were typically more densely innervated (p < 0.01) except at the 3 mm level. The average density of myelinated nerve fibres increased by arriving closer to the apex. However, the average diameter did not show any significant differences amongst quadrants or root levels (p > 0.05). The average diameter of myelinated fibres varied between 5.3-7.8 μm. Grouped myelinated axons were twice as common as isolated ones, with the innervation being rather close to the alveolar bone. Isolated myelinated axons showed a tendency to group around large blood vessels. The present results add to the understanding of human PDL innervation, indicating dense innervations by myelinated nerve fibres in close proximity to collagen fibres and alveolar bone. It also reveals that apical as well as mesial and buccal sites of the human canine are more densely innervated.


Yan Huang, Livia S Corpas, Wendy Martens, Reinhilde Jacobs, Ivo Lambrichts. Histomorphological study of myelinated nerve fibres in the periodontal ligament of human canine. Acta odontologica Scandinavica. 2011 Sep;69(5):279-86

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PMID: 21395471

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